Winning Is An Outcome, Not a Strategy

Winning is for Losers?

Too much emphasis on winning almost always results in its opposite…losing.  While winning is an outcome, the strategy for winning must be based on the factors that support a team’s success:  teamwork, having fun, good sportsmanship, fair play, integrity and more teamwork.  When Coaches and Teams focus only on winning, they may often make decisions that ignore the structural strengths of winning teams.  Coaches may select a couple of good dribblers to get the ball down the court, a variety of great shooters to score points and a few net hogs to keep the other team from scoring or collecting rebounds.  While this may seem like a good strategy, it may ignore more important factors like: How well do these guys work as a team?  Can they use other skills when necessary to cover their team mates mistakes or in support of others initiatives on the court?  Are they playing fairly and assertively without becoming aggressive and racking up fouls?  Do they display the kind of good sportsmanship and integrity that will make them “Winners” off the court no matter the outcome of the game?  Are they committed to each other as team mates to work together for the success of the whole team or are they just looking out for themselves?  Fortunately, when Coaches and Teams focus on more than just their win-loss record, their losses serve as grist for the mill of creating Winners in the future.  If you never lose, you never appreciate winning.    The desire to win is more important than winning and this desire will lead to winning in the right ways.

We Have Always Been Winning!

Throughout mankind’s existence we have been competing.  We competed with nature for food against predatory animals and against natural droughts, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes and so on for our very survival.   We competed against other tribes for food, territory and dominance.  So, the idea of winners and losers is fairly ingrained in our social order because the winners were the survivors.  Winning or losing is a natural outcome of any conflict and sometimes, like in a war, even the winners have a bitter victory because of the loss of their countrymen.

Athletes Play Winners to Become Better Winners

Winning = Teamwork


Rowing team working together
Perfect Teamwork Helps Create Winners for Life

An Athletic contest is different.  Teams compete to be able to win so they can compete against still better teams and eventually the two best teams (the winners) get to compete against each other.   Losing in this environment is for winners.  While it may be nice to make it through all the contests as the final winning team, all of those contests (wins or losses) along the way turn good players into winners if they have the right mindset.   That mindset is being a “winner” before you even get on the court for that contest.  It comes from knowing you have done everything you can to help the whole team succeed, not just what you needed to do for yourself.  It comes from realizing you have the support of all of your teammates and that together, you can achieve more than any one could accomplish individually.  This is the concept of synergy and it is what takes great teams to the next level.  It is knowing you have given it your personal best and done what is best for your team.   Although every team has its leaders and followers, in great teams, even those natural leaders focus on making the team successful.  When this happens, the team will succeed and, even if they do not win every contest, they will know they are still winners.  They will be proud of having competed fairly, walk off the court with integrity, forever changed by the power of being part of a great team.  At the same time they will have lots of fun.


There’s always the motivation of wanting to win. Everybody has that. But a champion needs, in his attitude, a motivation above and beyond winning.
Pat Riley

The thrill isn’t in the winning, it’s in the doing.
Chuck Noll

Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half.
Bum Phillips

Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Winning is not everything, but wanting to win is.
Vince Lombardi